Gather ‘round everybody as we break out this week’s Burning Question around the Pac-12 and get opinions from all of our correspondents.
“Last week we talked about which of the returnees will have a breakout year. This week, we’ll turn our eye to the newcomers. Of all the newcomers in the conference, who will walk away at the end of the season with the Newcomer of the Year award?”
Parker Baruh: With UCLA and Arizona having two of the top three recruiting classes in the nation, it would seem like the best newcomer would be coming from one of those teams. However, this year in the Pac-12, I’m going to stay away from Shabazz Muhammad at UCLA and go with Colorado’s Josh Scott as the impact newcomer. Scott was the highlight of the Colorado recruiting class along with Xavier Johnson, and he provides something Tad Boyle has never had at Colorado or as a head coach for that matter, a freshman who can score inside the paint consistently. Although Scott needs to add weight to his 240-pound frame, his length is outstanding and he can rebound very well on both ends. With potential conference player of the year Andre Roberson starting opposite him, Scott will be able to take advantage of multiple match-ups and sneak in for easy putbacks. He averaged 17.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in Colorado’s five-game pre-season trip to Europe and although he’s not going to come out and put up great numbers right away, as the season progresses, 10 points and eight rebounds per game is not out of the question. He can run the floor very well, which is crucial in Tad Boyle’s offensive system. Consequently, he’ll be able to pick up easy points with the guards finding him in transition. What will separate Scott from other post players around the league is the fact that he doesn’t try to do too much. He’s a good and willing passer and will hit cutters or open shooters when necessary. If Josh Scott can provide scoring and rebounding on the front line with Andre Roberson, teams will have a very hard time stopping Colorado’s offense and give up second chances all game long.
Kevin Danna: I really like Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski‘s chances as being the newcomer of the year in the Pac-12 for this simple reason: How many 7-footers are there in the conference that have offensive game? Only one, and it’s the freshman center out of St. Mark’s School in Massachusetts. Outside of Aziz N’Diaye and maybe Tony Woods or Eric Moreland, I don’t really see how many guys will have success guarding Tarczewski one-on-one. He has a great back-to-the-basket game, so while it will be a lot tougher for him to stuff it every time down the court, he will be able to rely on his left shoulder baby hook. He doesn’t have the fanciest footwork, but there’s not a lot of wasted motion from this guy, so if he gets a bead on somebody, he’s not going to fiddle around and let a defender have a chance to make up for his mistake. So then you try to double team the guy, which would be fine if he wasn’t a good passer. The problem for opposing defenses, though, is that he has great court vision on the low block. If he’s getting doubled, then easy math says someone has to be open, and Tarczewski has a good sense of where the cutter will be coming from. He is also a guy who can run the floor reasonably well and fill that trail post role nicely. If he gets bodied out of the paint, don’t be surprised to see him hit an eight- to 10-foot turnaround jumper. I love what this kid can do.